About

Thinking about how technologies implicate society & space/time and are socialised, spaced & timed through their design and use.

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Blog

Bernard Stiegler: “Rethinking an industrial policy in the era of the Anthropocene and automation”? [translated]

I recently came across an edited interview with Bernard Stiegler published on the website of Philosophie Magazine (17/12/18) [a] in which Stiegler ties together a very brief reading of the ‘yellow vests’ phenomena with the experiments he has been leading in the creation of an ‘economy of contribution’ – a more-or-less as a ethico-political-economic response to …

“AI will displace 40 percent of world’s jobs in as soon as 15 years” – Kai-Fu Lee

In a widely-trailed CBS ’60 minutes’ interview, the A.I-pioneer-cum-venture-capitalist Kai-Fu Lee makes the sorts of heady predictions about job replacement/displacement that the media like to lap up. The automative imagination of ‘automation as progress’ in full swagger… We should perhaps see this in the context of, amongst other things, geopolitical machinations (i.e. China-USA) around trade …

“Merger” by Keiichi Matsuda – automation, work and ‘replacement’

I came across the most recent film by Keichii Matsuda which concerns a possible future of work, with the protagonist embedded in an (aesthetically Microsoft-style) augmented reality of screen-surfaces, and in which the narrative denouement is a sort of trans-human ‘uploading’ moment. I like Matsuda’s work. i think he skilfully and playfully provokes particular sorts …

Bio

I am a geographer via a convoluted route through digital art, web development and a brief foray into digital scholarship. My research aims to contribute to how we understand the increasing importance of mediating technologies in our lives. Key here are two themes: how we understand spatial experience and how we understand ‘mediation’ and technology. I explore geographies of technology by unpicking what ‘technologies’ are and how they are involved in our understandings and experiences of space and place. This work informs how I contribute to the teaching of geography.

This website is a means for sharing my work. Read my latest blog post at /blog.

You can also visit my staff profile on the University of Exeter Geography department website.

My ORCID is: 0000-0002-1336-292X.

I have a ResearchGate page (which I may delete).

Background

In April 2013 I became a Lecturer in Human Geography in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Exeter and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in December 2018. Between March 2010 and  March 2013 I was a Research Fellow in the Digital Cultures Research Centre (DCRC), at the University of the West of England, Bristol. My research continues to be concerned with exploring and problematising the cultures, spacings and temporality of technology.

In July 2010 I successfully defended my PhD thesis, undertaken at at the School of Geographical Sciences in the University of Bristol. I was funded by the Economics and Social Research Council as a 1+3 student. Between November 2009 and June 2010 I worked as an RA with Prof. Martin Weller in the Institute of Educational Technology, at the Open University, investigating practices and rationales for digital scholarship. In 2006 I graduated from the MSc in Society and Space at Bristol. I studied as an undergraduate at the University of Plymouth, in BSc (Hons) Digital Art & Technology (then called MediaLab Arts) in 2004.

Research

My research has been about poking around how technology gets designed, made, used and talked about and how that has a hand in how we think about society, space and time. I like to think my work to span all sorts of ‘disciplinary’ delineations but I’m probably most at home as a ‘geographer’. My research broadly pursues three themes: first, geographies of technology – principally practices of innovation ; second, spatial imagination and appeals towards a future, not least in relation to automation, ‘smart cities’ and ‘ubiquitous computing‘; third, the changing understanding and politics of technologies as mediators, characterised partially by work concerning an ‘attention economy‘ and ‘taste’.

Recent Research

The automative imagination – ongoing. The aim of this work is to think about and write about the ways in which automation gets imagined – the sorts of cultural, economic and social forms of imagination that are drawn upon and generated when discussing how automation works and the kinds of future that may come as a result. The concept of an ‘automative imagination’ is proposed as a means of articulating these different, sometimes competing – sometimes complementary, orientations towards automation. The neologism ‘automative’ is not used here to assert discursive authority but rather as a pragmatic tool – to speak of an ‘automated’ or ‘automatic’ imagination does not describe the characteristics of automation but suggests the imagining is itself automated, which is not the argument I am seeking to make. My aim is not to validate/invalidate particular narratives of automation – but instead to think about how they are produced and what they tell us about how we tell stories about what it means to be ‘human’, who/what has agency and what this may mean for how we think politically and spatially.

Contagion – funded by the ESRC from Sept 2013-March 2015. Contagion investigated the conditions for movement of infectious disease as well as potent ideas. Using approaches derived from philosopher Gabriel Tarde to think about bio-sociality, the research used large databases on influenza and social media as well as investigations of financial analyses to compare contagion within different domains. The work is in conjunction with colleagues at the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency and the Food Standards Agency.

Computing Futures – funded by a British Academy Small Grant (2011-12). This project enabled further research on the ways in which futures are anticipated in ubiquitous computing research and development. This work principally focuses on the HP Labs project ‘CoolTown’ through interviews with people involved with the project. Supporting interviews were also conducted to offer contrasting positions from other projects conducted in a similar timeframe. Outcomes of this research included workshops with creative technology producers and public talks in Bristol and Cardiff. Publications based on this research are in preparation.

‘Open City’ – Guimaràes 2012 European Capital of Culture – In 2012 I was a consultant for a ‘design fiction‘ film that attempts to imagine a near future of Guimaràes as a ‘smart city’. The work is commissioned by the Open City programme, coordinated by Watershed, as a part of the broader programme of cultural work conducted under Guimaràes 2012 European Capital of Culture (Portugal). My contribution brought together the findings from both the Computing Futures project and my PhD research with my reflections on ‘design fiction’ to help filmmaker Geoff Taylor to realise an alternative vision of a ‘smart cities’ future based on workshops with the citizens of Guimaràes. You can watch the film on the Smart City page of the Open City website.

Contact

For academic enquiries please contact me on my university email address, see my university staff profile page for details.